Searching for a minimal USB camera

The tested cameras this year (Axis, Microsoft LifeCam 3000) are much more expensive and have more features (auto focus, color adjustment) than I’d like. I’m currently planning to use one or two cameras for internal monitoring on the robot (to fully understand when things go wrong on field), and those cameras are overkill. (I’m also working on a robotic EDD project that has a very low budget).

Has anyone found, used, or seen a good camera that comes closest to these minimum requirements?

  • 320x240 pixels at 10 fps.
  • USB interface to an ARM Linux computer (roboRIO or ODROID). Preferably over GenICam interface, since that’s already on the roboRIO.
  • Does not need to be in color.
  • No mounting requirements (a raw PCB is fine).
  • Does not need to auto-focus.

I do know webcams pulled from dead laptops are pretty compact and dirt cheap on ebay; I have a box of them myself (that I never got to using). Sure, they’re color 1.3MP (some with microphones), but unless it is from a sony vaio (or anything else using Ricoh webcam chips), it should linux up. To interface, either splice/add a usb plug/cable to the old connector (which many times will use somewhat standard wire colors). If over 16’ cable length, use a repeater cable just to be safe.

You can usually get the PS3 eye camera quite cheaply on ebay, and it supports low res (though high framerate). I’ve gotten this camera to run on both the BeagleBone Black and the Jetson TK1. It has some brightness correction and auto-focus though, if that is a deal breaker.

Extra features aren’t bad for my needs, simply more than I need. Features aren’t deal breakers: I mainly want to reduce price.

Thanks for the advice.

$25 is too expensive for a camera?

The ones on FIRST Choice are pretty small, and free

Dead laptop webcams are usually $5 or less on fleabay… or if you know anybody with a few dead laptops/guts in a file cabinet (like me :D), barter/free. Yesterday I pulled apart a beat to **** (but still running, sorta) 13" toshiba from 2007 and sure enough, a narrow little webcam module came out of the lid that from pre-parting testing, is a pretty basic 1.3MP UVC webcam. Another one in the pile…

PS3 Eye cameras are $8 from Amazon in bulk packaging. High frame rate, low latency, low motion blur, acceptable image quality. These are my favorite of the several I’ve tried.

I got a couple of these and I can’t get my Laptop to even recognise them as cameras, only audio inputs. No S/W included… is there a trick to get them to work?

Was your reference based on FIRST usage, or something else…

I also referenced it, but based on outside usage. I’ve used the ps3 eye before on the beaglebone and Jetson TK1, though only the beaglebone has the proper kernel module built on it, which is the gspca-ov534. The Jetson board and the roboRIO do not have it. So to get it to work with the roboRIO you would have to compile and load it yourself.

I know NI has their kernel on github but I haven’t seen anyone try to build it or any kernel modules for the roboRIO.